It’s essential to start educating about proper oral care early, of course! To encourage excellent oral hygiene and health, it is recommended that your child have their first dental visit by either the age of one or within six months after the growth of their first tooth. However, if there are any issues with your child’s teeth that are a result of disease, injury, or developmental problems, they should be seen right away.

What to Expect

Your Child’s First Appointment

It’s important to establish a positive experience during your child’s first visit to the dentist, so we naturally take their comfort as a top priority! Typically, their first visit to our office will involve very little treatment and be short so as not to overwhelm them. We may ask that you’re present and in the dentist’s chair, holding your child to comfort them or we may ask you to wait in the reception area in order to build trust and a positive relationship between your child and one of our staff. As their comfort is #1, however, we will always speak with you in the event your child becomes upset or wishes to have you around.

At the appointment, Dr. Lawlor will exam your child’s teeth, check the status of their bite, look for any gum, jaw, or oral tissue problems, and ensure there is no presence of decay. If necessary, he will clean any teeth that require it and discuss the need for fluoride. Fluoride assists in the prevention of cavity development for several months and usually come in the form of flavored foam or paste.

There are several topics that our professionals may bring up while conducting your child’s first visit. These topics include the potential need for fluoride, teething, proper nutrition for oral developmental and health, oral habits such as thumb sucking, good oral hygiene practices for their teeth, gums, and cavity prevention, stages of oral developmental, and the scheduling of dental appointments. We encourage you to bring your child in every six months to continue building up their sense of comfort, to quickly treat any developing problems, and to consistently monitor the development of their teeth.

Dental X-Rays

There’s no specific rule for when a child should begin having dental x-rays conducted, as some children have a higher risk for dental problems than others. Those with higher risk should have x-rays done before others, but most children will have x-rays taken by the time they are five or six years of age. This is around when their adult teeth might begin coming in. Once their adult teeth start coming in, the presence of x-rays in their oral care becomes even more essential. They help check that their adult teeth are growing in the jaw, assess if they are healthy and clean, and allow our professionals to check for any bite problems.

Proper Oral Care and Why It’s Important

The best plan of action is to start encouraging and implementing appropriate oral care before your child’s adult teeth come in. Ways you can start caring for them early is by utilizing a soft cloth to clean their gums. This should be done as early as a few days after birth up until their first teeth grow in. Additionally, the sharing of spoons, forks, or other utensils between parents or caregivers and their child is discouraged because it is possible that the other person’s saliva may contain bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Sharing will potentially pass along that bacteria to your child and even something as simple as kissing can do the same. General practice of proper oral health and hygiene by all members of the family and those who come in close contact with the child will reduce the risk of this bacteria being passed on.

If you have any questions or concerns about proper oral care, health, and hygiene for your child, never hesitate to speak with one of our professionals! Contact our Portland, ME office today to learn more.